Sunday, December 20, 2015


Think back to your own school days when Cassandra, (or was it Jack?) decided they didn’t want to be your friend any more or just changed friends without so much as a grin, then gave you grief.  You thought they were mean, and they probably were.  You cried a lot and decided to be mean back, because you didn’t know what else to do.

This has always happened, still does and always will.  Your parents may have dealt with it well and helped you through the crisis, or they didn’t handle it well and you learned through ‘the school of hard knocks’.

I’d like to offer you some suggestions when these crises happen to your child.


If you have developed a strong communication link with your child it will make the task easier as they will be honest with you and spill out the problem troubling them.  Listen to them with affirmative words, or at least grunts, without interrupting them.  Sometime during the session mention an experience you had and how you dealt with it.


If they have any true friends, (maybe they don’t go to the same school) ask her if she wants to invite a couple over to play.  This may take the focus off the tense situation at school and give her faith in other relationships.


Your child is probably feeling hurt, insecure and a bit angry in regards to the failed relationship.  Load affection on her.  Take her out and give her some happy times.  Maybe serve her favorite meal.  Reassure her that this situation will work itself out.  Acceptance and trust will build to a point where she will want to come and share her thoughts and emotions with you in the future.

Written by Brian Burgess, Forefront Families


We have heard a lot lately about random acts of kindness by adults, like paying for the groceries of the person behind you at the supermarket or taking an older person out for an afternoon drive.  We have extremely wealthy people giving away chunks of their fortunes to the needy and church folks going out into the community to help those in need.

It is equally important to teach our kids that giving unconditionally is something they can also be involved in.  To give someone else pleasure in a world that has become so self-centered, is a very strong value to instill into the whole family.  Here are some suggestions for kids to learn kindness:

1) Hold the door open for those behind you.

2) Say good morning to your teacher, principal, school officials and classmates.

3) Offer to let your classmate go first.

4) Ask if you can take your neighbor’s dog for a walk.

5) Invite someone new over for a play-date.

6) Collect dry products and canned goods for a food bank.

7) Volunteer to be a tutor or mentor in a school, especially if there is an area in
     which you can help another student.

8)  Give someone a compliment at least once every day.

9)  Color a picture, make something or send a treat to a senior center or nursing home.

10) Donate your unwanted toys and books to children in need.

11) Write a thank you note to your teacher, your coach, a firefighter, your mentor or
       someone who has influenced you in a positive way.

12)  Clean up the area around your school or a local park, picking up trash and
       putting it in the garbage can.  You can also help your teacher clean up the

13)  Be extra kind to your bus driver.  Say hello when you get on the bus and say
       thank you.

14)  Call your grandparent(s) or other special family members who you do not see

15) Set aside 10% of your allowance to give away to charities or church so that
       others will benefit.

16)  Write a note to your parent(s) or grandparent(s) and tell them why they are
        special to you.

17)  Help around the house without being asked to do so, such as cleaning your room,
       taking out the garbage or helping with the laundry.

18)  Going to a new school can be really scary so be friendly to any new students
        that may come to your class or grade.

19)  Organize the clothes you don’t wear anymore and donate them to a clothing
       drive or shelter.

20)  Smile.  Smiling is easy and happiness is contagious!

by Brian Burgess, Forefront Families


Have you ever pronounced a consequence on your child in anger and then realized it was completely inappropriate to the 'crime'?  Acting in anger and telling your child that they are grounded until they are 35 is just plain silly!!  On the one hand, it is impossible to enforce and on the other, who wants their child in the house making your life miserable for any length of time?  Drinking a cup of coffee or tea and a wander around the back yard to cool off will help you think straight before issuing a consequence. 

Yes, I can think of numerous times when I was a parent of younger children (that seems like 100 years ago!!) when my reaction in addressing my child’s misbehavior was something that I later regretted.  I have learned some valuable lessons that I want to pass on to you.



 PRO-ACTION: Kids deserve to know your expectations.  You explain what situation you are applying consequences to, then train your kids in the way you want them to behave.  You create either positive or negative consequences for their meeting or not meeting these expectations.  Achieving the very best from your kids will always come from praise for the positive rather than constantly berating them for the negatives.  Pro-action means you tell your kids clearly what the consequences will be for particular negative behaviors.  They make the decision to cross the line, and if they do, they already know what is coming.  That is playing fair with your kids.

REACTION: This is when you act without thinking which does not often bode well for either child or parent.   It often means that too harsh a consequence is issued which is unfair to the child.  It also means that a parent owes the child an apology for acting out of anger or frustration and not hearing the whole story before corrective action is applied.



A quick check of your own frustration or anger levels will tell you whether objectivity in a snap corrective decision can be achieved.  Give yourself and your child time to cool off.  It might mean sending the child to their room or talking the situation over with your spouse if a predetermined consequence has not been laid down.  It may be a time to reflect on whether you have made your expectations clear and/or whether you are displaying the behavior you are expecting of your child.

When you are ready to face your child try the following:

1) Tell him/her how you feel about his/her actions or lack of good judgment.

2) Tell them that it always pays to tell the truth, that trying to talk you out of the consequence
     is not going to work because it is important to learn to take responsibility for their own

3) Tell your child that even though you are disappointed you love them and trust they
     have learned the appropriate way to behave from here on.

4) Follow up with praise when they get it right.  Tell them they can always come to you
    to ask how to deal with situations they are unsure of.

5) Finally, apply the consequence when you are ready and as it is necessary.

Sometimes, especially at Middle or High School, a child may throw you a curve ball and do something out of character like skipping school.  You think, “But my child would never do that!”  It can happen to the best behaved children, especially if they are with a group of other kids egging them on.  When something like this happens, be prepared to wait a couple of days until all the facts are in and you have got over the shock.  Then act.

Written by Brian Burgess, Forefront Families


For many years the trend was all about spending a good quantity of time with your children.
Then a couple of decades ago it all changed to fit our busy life schedules. The catch-cry then
became, “It’s not the quantity of time that’s important. It’s the quality of time…a short period
of total focus on your child will suffice and they will be so invigorated by the special time, that
you’ll have contented kids. Not so in my experience.

For the last 18 years my wife and I have been running a parenting organization called Forefront Families (See the link below). We have found that kids need plenty of your time without distraction and the quality you put into it pays you big dividends.


 In a set of class lessons with 4th graders I asked the students, with their eyes closed, “How many of you would like your mother to spend more time with you?” 76% raised their hands. I asked how many wanted their fathers to spend more time with them. 68% said yes. You see, folks, just being in the same house or car is not ‘spending time’. The children stated that they want your undivided attention, doing something special and not costly with them. One parent, when asked by her daughter if she would please spend more time with her doing one-on-one activities, broke down and said words to the effect of, “I’m so sorry. I didn’t realize that it hurt you so much. I wish you had asked me earlier.” Now the mother and daughter are spending special times together.


Time is so short and we have our children only a brief time before they leave to make a life of
their own. Sometimes we can busy ourselves so much in our careers and endeavors, so that we
might give our families a good life, that we neglect to give what our kids want most, and that is
our TIME. One boy said that he would rather have his family live on the side of the road and
have time with each other than to live in a flash house with all the stuff. This statement blew
me away. Wow! Do you see how important it is to spend time with our children?

A business executive’s daughter was getting married. He had spent so little time with her that
he didn’t even know her bridesmaids’ names. Neither did he know his girl’s favorite color, but
he was very successful in his job. During the wedding his mind wouldn’t stop thinking about this
beautiful bride and how he didn’t really know her that well. His daughter had resigned herself
to never having a positive relationship with her dad, because he was hardly ever around. On
Monday, following the wedding, he called his aspiring employees together and talked to them
about the turmoil and regret, even shame, he had gone through over the weekend. “If any of
you want my job, just ask me. I have lost such valuable time and relationship with someone I
love dearly. I thought I was doing all this to give her and my other children a good life. It’s just
not worth it!”

by Brian Burgess, forefront Families

CAT'S IN THE CRADLE by Harry Chaplin

My child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch, and bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away
And he was talking 'fore I knew it, and as he grew
He'd say, "I'm gonna be like you, dad
You know I'm gonna be like you."

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
"When you coming home, dad?" "I don't know when
But we'll get together then
You know we'll have a good time then."

My son turned ten just the other day
He said, "Thanks for the ball, dad; come on, let's play
Can you teach me to throw?"
I said, "Not today, I got a lot to do."
He said, "That's okay."
And he walked away, but his smile never dimmed
And said, "I'm gonna be like him, yeah
You know I'm gonna be like him."

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
"When you coming home, dad?" "I don't know when
But we'll get together then
You know we'll have a good time then."

Well, he came from college just the other day
So much like a man, I just had to say
"Son, I'm proud of you. Can you sit for a while?"
He shook his head, and he said with a smile
"What I'd really like, dad, is to borrow the car keys
See you later; can I have them please?"

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
"When you coming home, son?" "I don't know when
But we'll get together then, dad
You know we'll have a good time then."

I've long since retired, and my son's moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said, "I'd like to see you if you don't mind."
He said, "I'd love to, dad, if I could find the time
You see, my new job's a hassle, and the kid's got the flu
But it's sure nice talking to you, dad
It's been sure nice talking to you."

And as I hung up the phone, it occurred to me
He'd grown up just like me
My boy was just like me

And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
"When you coming home, son?" "I don't know when
But we'll get together then, dad
We're gonna have a good time then."

Friday, November 13, 2015


Parenting is a hard job and we often feel ill-equipped to be like all the 'successful' parents around us.  Of course they are looking at us the same way.  Arlene Pellicane made a number of astute observations about the mistakes parents make.  This is one of them.


Focus on your children first and your marriage second, and you will hurt your kids.  When your kids need something for school or an activity, you’ll burn the candle at both ends to make it happen.  But if your spouse needs something, you tend to think, “Take care of it yourself.  I have enough to do around here!”  Yet when it’s all said and done, your kids will leave your home someday and probably start their own families.  Your relationship with your spouse is the most important bond that needs tending.  The greatest gift you can give your kids is a strong marriage.  It provides security, love, belonging, strength, and an example to follow in the future.


The younger the child is, the more attention it needs, naturally.  Unfortunately, by spending most of your time on your kid's needs you have far less time for your marriage.
a) You do your kids a disservice by giving them the idea that you are there for their every
     whim rather than learning to be part of a family - a family who helps one another.
b) You do yourself and your marriage a disservice by not resting and not spending time with your


Carve out time to feed and enjoy your own relationship.
a) Get the kids to bed by 7.30 or 8:00 p.m. so you can have time to yourselves.
b) Get a sitter so you can go out with friends or go to the movies.
c) Arrange for others to take the kids so you can take a short trip away.
d) Teach your kids not to interrupt 'Mommy and Daddy time' when you are sitting quietly, talking
    adult stuff.  That way they learn that your time together is valuable, also.

A happy home is a harmonious one.  When kids sense stress between parents, they they tend to become insecure and they do not thrive.  Each family member needs quality time alone and with each other.  Don't leave yourselves out.

Comments by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families

Arlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World and 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife. She has been a guest on the Today Show, Family Life Today, The 700 Club and Turning Point with David Jeremiah. Arlene and her husband James live in San Diego with their three children. Visit Arlene’s website at


Arlene Pellicane (see source below) identifies a number of errors that parents make in trying to please their childrenHere is one of them.

A few years ago when my son was at a basketball camp, their team was matched with a much better team.  After about five minutes, they turned the scoreboard off so it wouldn’t read 98:0 (or something like that!).  We have done our kids a disservice by giving everyone a “participation trophy.”  Life doesn’t work like that.  There are winners and losers.  Imagine if we stopped keeping score in professional sports.  What would be the point of the game?  Teach your child that self-worth is not found on the scoreboard,  but that he/she should always strive to do his/her best.  It’s motivating to earn a trophy through sweat, effort and determination.  It’s de-motivating to earn a trophy just because you showed up." - Arlene Pellacane 


The first thing to realize is that self-worth does not stem from what others think about us, but how we see ourselves.  That takes maturity and does not often materialize until we are in our late teens (after puberty).  We cannot afford to measure our success by results on the field.  There are too many variables that are beyond our control.  This is why we need to expose our kids to competition early so they understand they cannot always be the winner.  We need to teach our kids how to set goals for themselves, goals that they can achieve without comparing themselves with others.  For example, if they are running a race, then they can improve their own times.  Sure, they want to win, so they need to see what times winners are achieving and do what they can to better those times themselves through practice, practice, practice.

When I was competing in one particular competition everyone got a prize.  I think the reasoning was that people were bringing their kids from all over the States, so the organizers decided to keep the attendance up, they should give everyone a prize to take home. NOT.


Self respect begins at home.  We need to build our kids' confidence by encouraging them to try things.  Find out what they show aptitude for and get them going.  Encourage them to value and seek improvement.   Catch them in their failures.  Yes failures.  The world calls not winning, 'failure'.  Acknowledge their disappointment and help them through it.  Don't brush it off.  They need to learn to pick themselves up and keep trying.  This is an invaluable lesson.  One of the greatest things we can do for our kids is to train them to believe in themselves, to be successful and to NEVER give up.

Comments by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families.

Arlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World and 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife. She has been a guest on the Today Show, Family Life Today, The 700 Club and Turning Point with David Jeremiah. Arlene and her husband James live in San Diego with their three children. Visit Arlene’s website at


Parenting can be very exhilarating and very exasperating!  Exhilarating and exasperating are very emotive words, wrapped up in feeling either fabulous or frustrated.  Arlene Pellicane (see source below) has identified a number of failures we make as parents. The following is one of them.

"The main question these days is, 'How do you feel about that?'  We’ve downplayed the power of the will to do the right thing even when your child doesn’t feel like it.  Instead, we’ve elevated feelings above all else to our great detriment.  Your child may not feel like doing homework or giving grandma a hug as a CNN article wrote about.  Yet it’s the right thing to do homework and hug grandmas.  Your child should not learn to behave based on feelings.  Ask your child, “What do you think?” not “How do you feel?”   - Arlene Pellicane 

The term, 'If it feels right, do it' can get you into all sorts of trouble.  Feelings are based purely on emotion and we all know where that can get us.  Even with maturity, we can still be swayed sometimes by our feelings.  Remember the emotional roller coaster ride of our teen years?  Yikes!  Decisions based on our emotions can be irrational.


How do we arrive at rational decisions?  We apply reason and logic.  For example, I really want to go for an overseas trip.  It would be so exciting (feelings).  My reason and logic applied would make me think, 'Can I afford to go?'  If I put the cost on my credit card, will I have enough money for Christmas gifts?  Will it be safe?  Do I have accommodation worked out?  Should I get travel insurance in case I get sick or lose my luggage?  Spontaneity (feelings) is fine if you have the means to see the situation through.

We need to teach our kids to apply logic to important decisions.  Encourage them to think and talk  through the choices they make.
1  What do you want to do in relation to post-secondary study? e.g. attend an out-of-State university.
2. What are the positive and negative aspects of this decision?  The university has a great name but
    it will cost more to attend there.  I will be a long way from home, so traveling back and forth
    could be costly.
3. What are the options for achievement?  Should I do the first two years in a State Community
    College and then transfer?  Should I check out other universities nearer home?  Should I work and
    attend university at the same time?

Life is too short to make ill-advised choices.  There are times when we can be spontaneous but, in doing so, we still have to apply logic for safety and expense's sake.

Comments by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families
Source: Arlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World and 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife. She has been a guest on the Today Show, Family Life Today, The 700 Club and Turning Point with David Jeremiah. Arlene and her husband James live in San Diego with their three children. Visit Arlene’s website at


Forrest Gump said it well, when he said, "Life is a box of chocolates.  You never know what you are gonna get." We cannot allow our kids to think that everything will be rosy all the time.  We should not continually shield them from hard work and hard knocks.

Many times we feel as if we are failures as parents.  One of those reasons may be because we are making decisions for our kids that they don't like.  They can't see it is for their own good, only that we are 'ruining' their lives. We are perceived by them as 'mean' parents!

Arlene Pellicane sited several mistakes we make as parents.  Here is one of them.


"We don’t want our children to be bored or to scream in public places, so we hand over an electronic device to amuse them. As this becomes the norm, your child learns to crave constant amusement and entertainment. Instead of having a special Disneyland experience once every few years, we’re bending over backwards to create those magical moments every day with special outings, fun food, and over-the-top parties for kids. Stop being the cruise director for your child’s life - that’s not your main job description. If your child can’t find something to do without your help or without a screen, they are headed for trouble." - Arlene Pellicane



We are the author of our kids' expectations.  It doesn't take them long to learn that Granny is always going to bring them sweets when she comes to visit, that they will always get a toy when they go to the mall or that weekends are for their entertainment.  Life is not like that.

We can see where it comes from.  Newborns are totally reliant on others.  The difficulty is the point where we stop responding to their 'demands' and make them aware that they are part of a family not the center of the universe.  Of course, we want our kids to love us.  We want to remain feeling needed even, but spoiling them rotten by amusing them with stuff, is not what will bring them true happiness OR prepare them for the real world.  We need to shift their brains from 'it is all about me' to 'I am part of a family and we all have needs.'



  • We tell them they will not always get a special something when they go out.
  • We do not give them everything they ask for and explain why.
  • We lead by example by not having to be amused all the time ourselves.
  • We explain that money does not grow on trees and that they have to save for things.
  • We involve them in family responsibilities and do not pay them to do chores.
Comments by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families.

Arlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of Growing Up Social: Raising Relational Kids in a Screen-Driven World and 31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife. She has been a guest on the Today Show, Family Life Today, The 700 Club and Turning Point with David Jeremiah. Arlene and her husband James live in San Diego with their three children. Visit Arlene’s website at

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


At one of our seminars Brian talked about effective discipline. Having just had a session on creating family values, the audience now understood that kids need a clear explanation of expectations and boundaries.


Brian demonstrated the most effective method for handling a situation where a child has violated the boundaries. He said, “Get down to the child’s level. Make them look at you, and in a firm voice tell them what you expected, what they did wrong, and what the consequence will be.” He used a member of the audience to demonstrate the difference that the tone of voice makes. At first he spoke quietly and in conversation style. Then he really eyeballed the person and added the sound of authority to his tone of voice. It made the other person really take notice. After the seminar was over and we were packing up, the Children’s Pastor came back into the room and said, “You will never guess what just happened! Jonnie, the little boy we have most behavioral problems with in Sunday school, just threw a tantrum because he didn’t want to leave child-care after the seminar. His parents (who had attended) took him kicking and screaming to another room, closed the door, and applied the principles they had just been taught. Jonnie just left the church like a little lamb!”

It really does work! Here were parents with a 5 year-old who had never been controlled appropriately. Yet when they eyeballed him, and spoke with authority, the change in behavior was dramatic.



Kids want to know 'WHY' you have created particular family values and why they need to behave certain ways. They not only want to know ‘WHAT’ your expectations are, but as they get to an age of reasoning (about 10-12 years of age), kids also want parents to be consistent. The best way to ensure this happens is by role-modeling the desired behaviors and by having clear expectations. You will know you have done a good job with discipline when your kids behave well at home, and when they are out of your sight. How can you make this happen?


Kids need to mature past the mentality that negative behavior always means punishment. They need to understand that such behavior shows disrespect and that their misbehavior affects others. Unacceptable behavior may also damage a person’s reputation for later life. The term, ‘Say what you mean, and mean what you say’ is very true when it comes to giving clear messages to your children.

Written by Sally and Brian Burgess, Forefront Families


                                     Forgiving someone is often a very hard thing to do.


The natural response is often to:
1.  Build a wall of protection to prevent that person hurting you EVER AGAIN.

2.  Believe what they said/did. Take on the perceived value that that other person placed on you.
3.  Lose confidence in yourself and withdraw.
4.  Become angry and seek revenge.
5.  Lose a friendship.  The other person may move on or you may choose not to have such a
     close friendship again.
6.  Be less trusting of others in general.


It takes real courage to forgive because, in doing so, you are making yourself vulnerable.  It is the same when you apologize to someone.  You are admitting you made an error in judgement, a mistake.

Some situations are much more easy to forgive than others.  We forgive our children while they are learning our expectations.  It is harder to forgive them when they should know better.  It takes a huge heart to forgive someone who has taken the life of someone dear to you.  Yet, the examples we have seen e.g. The Amish families who immediately forgave the guy who shot and killed their family members.


I think we are all too often too hard on ourselves.  We believe that it is not acceptable to make mistakes or make the wrong turn.  How else do we learn? Yes, there are times when we know it is wrong, but we do it anyway.   Yes, we are disappointed in ourselves.  Yes, we feel stupid.  Yes, we let ourselves and/or others down. We need to apologize and, if necessary, ask for help to make the right choices next time. This applies to any age.  Sometimes we pay dearly for our mistakes.  If we break the law there will be serious consequences. You will likely need professional help to pick up your life and keep going after a major error in judgement, especially if it has caused loss.


Refusing to forgive creates ongoing bitterness and an all-consuming mindset of revenge.  We think we are binding the other person.  We hold back our forgiveness...but we are binding ourselves.  We have a young friend who felt he had been duped out of property by a stepmother.  He felt he had been unfairly treated by various Government Departments and was set on suing them all.  I told him that he spent so much time looking backwards in revenge that he was cheating himself out of his future.


Best summed up in a beautiful song of God's forgiveness written by Bruce Carroll

In a moment of weakness, you slipped and you fell.
Now you're feeling the emptiness, you needed someone to tell.
The enemy is condemning, trying to get the best of you,
But God his love since forgiven, and the next thing that He wants you to do, is,

Forget it, don't let it, keep on bringing you down.
Be strong, press on, on to higher ground.
Don't let the sins of yesterday, keep standing in your way.
Forget it, don't let it, keep on bringing you down.

In our moments of weakness, it's hard for us to understand,
Why we lay our burdens down, then try to pick'um up again.
For in the eyes of Jesus, the moment we first believe,
as far as the east lies from the west, our redemption is complete. So,

Forget it, don't let it, keep on bringing you down.
Be strong, press on, on to higher ground.
Don't let the sins of yesterday, keep standing in your way.
Forget it, don't let it, keep on bringing you down.

Don't ask the Lord about a sin that you confessed.
He can not remember what He's promised to forget. So,

Forget it, don't let it, keep on bringing you down.
Be strong, press on, on to higher ground.
Don't let the sins of yesterday, keep standing in your way.
Forget it, don't let it, keep on bringing you down.

So, don't keep bringing up negative things your kids, your spouse or friends have done, you have discussed, and all is forgiven.   IT IS OVER.  LET IT GO!

Blog written by Sally Burgess


I heard a question on the radio the other day. "Do we over-value our children?"  I was puzzled by the question.  How could we possibly 'over-value' our kids when they are so precious that we consider them priceless?

As I listened to the discussion I realized that what the speaker was referring to was when we tell our children they can reach whatever star they choose.  They can fulfill any dream they wish.  In reality, that cannot always be true.  We DO live in the land of opportunity and we DO each have tremendous potential to fulfill many of our wildest dreams.  I know.  I have shocked myself sometimes.  However, our individual potential does not encompass all skills and all abilities. 

Not all of us have the operatic voice of Pavaroti, the body type of medal winning swimmer Michael Phelps or the brilliance of Albert Einstein.  Some people have a natural aptitude or gift for becoming a virtuoso musician, while others have to practice very hard to achieve half the skill.  Some people seem to ace every test at school while others, like me, had to toil over our books for hours to pass exams.

So what is the point of all this?  Sometimes we lead our kids to believe they are amazingly gifted in some area when they really, and obviously, are not.  We only have to look at the talent shows on TV to see that some contestants have absolutely no idea that they just aren't anywhere near good enough in 'that field'.

Are we being fair to our kids when we lead them to believe they can 'walk on water'?  The answer clearly is, NO.  They race into the activity fully expecting to win and when they don't make it they feel embarrassed, crushed, hurt and/or angry.  Where did they get the idea that they were so great at that activity?  Maybe in the exuberance of wanting the very best for our kids we slip into unrealistic expectations of them, or maybe we try to live out our own unfulfilled dreams in a child who finds out the hard way that they simply don't excel in that particular area.  We need to protect our kids from disillusionment by preparing them well and providing reality checks.

Yes, we think our own children are the most talented little beings ever born. Yes, we want to be proud of them, but let's not get carried away with what we think they can do.  Let's encourage them to dream lofty dreams and to be the best they can be.  Let's put those dreams into action while, at the same time, exploring whether our children have an aptitude to fulfill them.

Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families


This week I will be running a Father/Son Fun Friday at the school where I work.  Already we will have around 130 fathers and sons.  At the last school I worked in I ran two of these a year until the fathers and boys were bugging me for more. These evenings were such fun.  It was so incredible to watch the expressions on both fathers and sons as they had a meal followed by fun activities.  Laughter and cheering were the hallmarks of these evenings.  As the fathers came in they shook my hand.  As they left I received many two-handed shakes and, "Thank you so much!"

The role of a father is so necessary.  Fathers have a role to uphold the discipline in the family, not to do it all, but to ensure that family values are instilled and that consequences are applied when expectations are not met.  Does this mean that a woman cannot do it?  Not at all, but she has so many other roles to play and fathers need to step up and take a lead.  The second role of an effective father is to affirm his children.  Most mothers already affirm their children in many different ways, but boys especially will go to 'the ends of the earth' just to hear their father say, "Attaboy!" or "I'm proud of you, son!"

‘Fatherlessness’ has caused repercussions in our society that we did not anticipate twenty years ago. While marriages have always broken down, divorce and reconstituted marriage is almost pandemic in its proportions.  Too many mothers have born the brunt of raising children alone and have generally done a great job.  However, the lack of fathers in homes has led to a generation where too many adolescents are running wild in the community, some even killing each other.  Father-modeling is just not available to many youths who so desperately need a positive example to exemplify what ‘being a man’ and ‘being a father’ is all about.

Partially, as an over-compensation for not having a father around, many mothers have overindulged their sons.  Sons are often not expected to pick up after themselves, to cook, or to do other household chores.  This is hardly fair on the woman they eventually marry who certainly doesn’t want to be the man’s mother-figure and do for him what he has expected his mother to do.  Further to this, even fathers in good marriages have not always had effective modeling from their own fathers.  We men tend to pass down to our children what we learned and have experienced, and this has not always meant effective father-modeling.

Spending regular, dedicated time with our children is one of the keys to growing emotionally-healthy children.  Children would rather have a less-successful father than one who is never around, one they barely know.  It's not worth the loss of relationship or the possibility of dysfunctional children.

Written by Sally and Brian Burgess, Forefront Families

Thursday, September 17, 2015



Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition that is triggered when a person witnesses a psychologically traumatic event, such as war, a natural disaster, or any situation that invokes feelings of helplessness or intense fear. Severe anxiety, flashbacks, uncontrollable thoughts and nightmares are common symptoms of the illness. These symptoms can worsen and last for years.

Daniel G Amen MD states
"In recent years, the media has raised our social awareness about PTSD because it has affected so many soldiers returning from combat. But did you know that studies show that violent homes have the same effect on a child’s brain as combat does on soldiers?

It’s true!

Growing up in a chaotic, aggressive environment causes the same brain changes in children as what soldiers experience in war. It can actually change your brain, perhaps for the rest of your life. While emotional trauma in childhood can follow you into adulthood, it doesn’t have to.

It all starts with looking at your brain to determine its health. On brain SPECT scans, the pattern of PTSD typically reveals over-activity in multiple areas of the brain—often referred to as the "diamond plus pattern." This high activity tends to keep the brain on overdrive, increasing anxiety, irritability and interfering with sleep." - read more (source below)

This information is disturbing.  I never equated the effects of a warring home on a child to be so similar to a combative war zone, but when you consider the effects of extreme anxiety, helplessness and the inability to escape from a physically or emotionally violent home, it becomes all too clear.

Parents and those close to children from violent homes need to be aware this toxic environment WILL CREATE IN THEM a feeling of extreme anxiety, insecurity and entrapment.  They watch parental breakdown in technicolor.  There is no place of safety and no-one they can truly trust.

There are many sources of professional help available.  Parents, do not expose yourselves or your children to physical or emotional distress.

Get help as soon as possible to save yourselves and your children from short and/or long term traumatic distress.

Sources: Source: 

Comments by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


There are a number of advantages in letting kids play in the dirt.  It exposes kids to different textures.  It provides an opportunity for kids to use their imaginations, to create roads, move dirt, build bridges, create little river-ways and other things.  It also gives kids the opportunity to learn about growing things - how to plant, how to tend and protect plants and how to enjoy the flowers and veggies they grow.

Another great advantage of playing in dirt is the natural immunity it creates.  I find the huge push to eradicate 99.9% of germs by companies pushing disinfectants absolutely ridiculous.  They are so intent on selling their product that they advocate the 'necessary' disinfection of all surfaces, including hands, at every opportunity.  How do you think our bodies build up immunity against germs if we are not naturally exposed to them?

There is something therapeutic about putting your hands or feet in the soil; to be in touch with the very thing that creates growth.  It is a 'grounding' experience.  You may recall the reaction of babies when they place their bare feet on the grass, in sand or in the dirt.  It is an unusual sensation  because most of the time their feet are covered.  It really is a point of discovery, of awareness as to how different objects and surfaces feel.

We were walking along the shoreline in New Zealand one day and saw a little girl in a pretty pink top and pants playing in a mud puddle.  It wasn't long before her clothes were covered in mud, but she was unaware of any of that.  She was having a great time.  Her parents didn't go and pull her away, they just let her experience the moment.  Good for them.

Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families.




What men say to their daughters now matters for years to come. Tara Hedman asks them to choose their words carefully.

I’m spending the morning waiting for my car in the repair shop. Four men in flannel (I missed the flannel memo) and I sit around smelling tires and inhaling exhaust fumes while an enchanting little fairy is in constant motion around her daddy. She climbs on him, giggles, turns around, and then she’s back to twirling on the tile.  She’s bouncing and spinning around in her pink frilly skirt. Her black cable knit tights are sagging around her tiny knees, and her puffy coat makes her arms stand out further than is natural. To top off the ensemble is a shiny crystal tiara. It’s been tacked down to her head with what appears to be about 60 haphazard bobby pins.

She’s probably four years old. So little, so vulnerable. She doesn’t seem concerned about it as she sings about teapots and ladybugs in her black Mary Janes. I feel myself tear up as I watch her. I tear up as I watch him watch her. She could not possibly know at four what impact this man, his character, or his words will have on her for years to come. And, maybe he doesn’t know either.

So, to all the daddies with little girls who aren’t old enough yet to ask for what they need from you, here is what we wish you knew:

1. How you love me IS how I will love myself.
2. Ask how I am feeling and listen to my answer. I need to know you value me before
    I can understand my true value.
3. I learn how I should be treated by how you treat my mom, whether you are married to
    her or not.
4. If you are angry with me, I feel it even if I don’t understand it, so talk to me.
5. Every time you show grace to me or someone else, I learn to trust God a little more.
6. I need to experience your nurturing physical strength, so I learn to trust the physicality
    of men.
7. Please don’t talk about sex like a teenage boy, or I think it’s something dirty.
8. When your tone is gentle, I understand what you are saying much better.
9. How you talk about female bodies when you’re ‘just joking’ is what I believe about
    my own.
10. How you handle my heart is how I will allow it to be handled by others.
11. If you encourage me to find what brings joy, I will always seek it.
12. If you teach me what safe feels like when I’m with you, I will know better how to guard
      myself from men who are not.
13. Teach me a love of art, science, and nature, and I will learn that intellect matters more
      than dress size.
14. Let me say exactly what I want even if it’s wrong or silly, because I need to know having
      a strong voice is acceptable to you.
15. When I get older, if you seem afraid of my changing body, I will believe something is
      wrong with it.
16. If you understand contentment for yourself, so will I.
17. When I ask you to let go, please remain available; I will always come back and need you
      if you do.
18. If you demonstrate tenderness, I learn to embrace my own vulnerability rather than fear it.
19. When you let me help fix the car and paint the house, I will believe I can do anything a
      boy can do.
20. When you protect my femininity, I learn everything about me is worthy of protecting.
21. How you treat our dog when you think I’m not watching tells me more about you than
      does just about anything else.
22. Don’t let money be everything, or I learn not to respect it or you.
23. Hug, hold, and kiss me in all the ways a daddy does that are right and good and pure. I
      need it so much to understand healthy touch.
24. Please don’t lie, because I believe what you say.
25. Don’t avoid hard conversations, because it makes me believe I’m not worth fighting for.

It’s pretty simple, really. Little girls just love their daddies. They each think their daddy hung the moon. Once in a while when you look at your little gal twirling in her frilly skirt, remember she’ll be grown one day. What do you want her to know about men, life, herself, love? What you do and say now matters for a lifetime. Daddies, never underestimate the impact of your words or deeds on your daughters, no matter their age.

—Photo Steven Snodgrass /Flickr
Find me at on Facebook:
Originally published on My Blog:

Posted by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families



Through most of our active adult lives we don't really think much about time being more precious than money. After all, we do have the responsibility of providing a roof, clothing and food for ourselves and our families. Then we get caught up in the trap of 'upward mobility' in buying bigger homes in better locations to ensure we have garnered enough money for retirement. So, now we are not only providing for our family needs, but stretching our resources to accommodate our wants to such an extent that we have to use up the spare time we do have to service our financial commitments.


We tend to measure our success by the material things we accumulate rather than the quality of relationship which comes by spending time with our loved ones. In the greater scheme of things,
what really makes us happiest? Is it stuff or is it people? Is it a throw away toy or is it precious memories of spending time with others?


  1. We create an overall game plan and prioritize our time.
  2. We schedule time for work, spouse and individual children.
  3. We create vacation time that does not necessarily involve expense.
  4. We model what we want our kids to value most.
  5. We stick to the plan.


  1. We teach our kids why 'stuff' is far less important than time spent. 
  2. We are sewing seeds of wisdom, knowledge and expertise into their lives.
  3. We have the opportunity to find out their gifts and talents and help them set goals.
  4. It is a chance for parents to observe sadness or concern in their children.
  5. Spending time with our children gives them a strong feeling of value.
    Spending time with our families gives us the rest that we all need and also keeps us in perspective of what really matters. Money is one thing, but TIME is the greatest gift we can give ourselves and our families.

    Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families

    Monday, August 3, 2015


    It doesn't matter what they are doing, kids love Dad's company and expertise.  There is just nothing like the hands-on experience with Dad to make memories special to kids.


    Think back to your own childhood.  What do you recall as the best times?  Our own kids remember the holidays when we went to the beach as a family and they learned how to swim, how to raft and how to skip stones over the surface of the water.  They remember the times when Dad took teens to camps as part of his job.  They learned how to ride on the go-carts and off-road motorbikes just like the teens did.  They learned how to paddle a kayak, to hike, do orienteering and help with camp chores.

    When our dance band went to holiday resorts over the summer vacation and played to campers, our kids learned how to talk to those they didn't know, help with the sound gear and to play and sing in front of others.

    Our son was interested in a number of activities his Dad enjoyed doing.  He learned how to paint, fix cars, unblock drains, garden and build fences.  All of these things have saved ourselves and our son's family a lot of money over the years.


    Kids love parents and grandparents to join them in their play.  Whether it is building cardboard forts in the middle of the living room, or water bombing each other outside, a real bond is created between the generations and the memories will last for many years.  Play can also be a teaching opportunity e.g. how to play Monopoly (This gives them an idea how best to use their money - even if it is just paper.)


    Do things together, whether side-by-side in household tasks or just having fun.  This way kids learn how to do things thoroughly, expertly and safely.  They observe how you live, how to develop their own work ethic, the attitudes that lead to success, how they should treat people and effective ways to solve problems. 

    Helicopter parenting, by sitting in a deck chair shouting instructions, is not the same as feeling a parent's close proximity, enthusiasm, example and personal direction (as per the picture above).

    Written by Sally Burgess
    (This picture is of our son showing his boys how to fish.)

    Thursday, July 30, 2015


    When I was at school I was always around the 50-60% mark in academic achievement (That was a pass for the scale that we used in New Zealand at that time).  I never gave myself much hope of ever really excelling scholastically.  It wasn't a good feeling.  Then, when I was at high-school I used to sit next to my friend, Avril, who was very good at shorthand.  Every time I would try to talk to her she was practicing.  If I couldn't waste time talking to her, I thought I had better practice, too.  Bingo!  For the first time, I got a taste of success.  She topped the class and I came in 6th.  What a revelation I had that day!  I could do it!  I didn't have to be just average any longer.  It was an incredible sense of achievement and one that changed my thinking thereafter.


    After completing my nursing training, I decided to give University a try.  My father said, "We aren't that kind of people!"  Previously I would have believed him, but with my new-found confidence, I thought, 'See ya!' and off I went.  Then, in later years, I met up with an old school teacher I had in high-school and when I told her I had just completed a Diploma in Nursing Studies, she said, "But you weren't academic material!"  I went on to complete a Bachelors' Degree.  My husband's brother found an old high school school report where the Principal stated, 'John would not amount to anything academically!'  What a terrible pronouncement to make over someone!  My husband, both his brothers and I all failed a year at high school in New Zealand because every student that didn't drop out took national exams in the last three years of high school.  Only 50% were allowed to pass to keep the standards high.  If you failed you had to repeat the whole year.  The brothers all attained University qualifications and became school principals.  I became a Registered Nurse.  It's grit and tenacity that got us there!

    The possibility of succeeding is an absolutely vital ingredient in every person's life.  Failure either creates a deep sense of hopelessness or spurs you on to overcome it.  Without hope, kids get into trouble.  Everyone wants to make their mark on the world somehow, and if they cannot be recognized for having expertise in something positive they will get it negatively.


    Your kids don't have to be top of the class, win every race or play first violin in the orchestra to create a great feeling of accomplishment.  We need to expose them to various activities or studies to see where they shine or where they would LIKE to shine.  If your kids are struggling at school, then talk to the teacher and, if possible, get them extra tuition so they can master their classes.  Don't let them think they are 'dumb' because they don't 'get it'.  Encourage them with any form of achievement and help them when they struggle.

    The little boys in the picture above are in a Tae Kwon Do class.  They are only 3 and 5 years old yet they are jumping out of their skins with excitement over gaining different colored belts after passing higher and higher grades.


    Success can be achieved at any stage in our lives.  If we feel we have wasted our learning years, it is never too late.  We met a 93 year-old woman recently who had just gained her Bachelors' Degree.  She was asked why she did it because it was not going to make any difference to her vocational opportunity.  She said, "I just wanted to do it to keep my brain active."

    Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families

    Friday, July 10, 2015


    As she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the very first day of school, she told the children an untruth. Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same. However, that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard.

    Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he did not play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath. In addition, Teddy could be unpleasant.

    It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X's and then putting a big "F" at the top of his papers.
    At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child's past records and she put Teddy's off until last. However, when she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise.

    Teddy's first grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners... he is a joy to be around.."  His second grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is an excellent student, well liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle."  His third grade teacher wrote, "His mother's death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best, but his father doesn't show much interest and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren't taken."  Teddy's fourth grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is withdrawn and doesn't show much interest in school. He doesn't have many friends and he sometimes sleeps in class."

    By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself.  She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for Teddy's.  His present was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper that he got from a grocery bag Mrs.  Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents.  Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing, and a bottle that was one-quarter full of perfume.  But, she stifled the children's laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume on her wrist. Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that day just long enough to say, "Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my Mom used to."  After the children left, she cried for at least an hour.

    On that very day, she quit teaching reading, writing and arithmetic.  Instead, she began to teach children.  Mrs. Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy.  As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive.  The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded.  By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of the smartest children in the class and, despite her lie that she would love all the children the same, Teddy became one of her "teacher's pets.."  A year later, she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.

    Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. He then wrote that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in life.  Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he'd stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honors.  He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he had ever had in his whole life.

    Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor's degree, he decided to go a little further.  The letter explained that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had.  But now his name was a little longer.... The letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, MD.

    The story does not end there.  You see, there was yet another letter that spring.  Teddy said he had met this girl and was going to be married.  He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit at the wedding in the place that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom.

    Of course, Mrs. Thompson did.  And guess what?  She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing.  Moreover, she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together.  They hugged each other, and Dr. Stoddard whispered in Mrs. Thompson's ear, "Thank you Mrs. Thompson for believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference."  Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back. She said, "Teddy, you have it all wrong.  You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference.  I didn't know how to teach until I met you."

    For you that don't know, Teddy Stoddard is the Dr. at Iowa Methodist Hospital in Des Moines that has the Stoddard Cancer Wing.

    Source:  This was a Face Book post that has no named source.

    Friday, July 3, 2015


    Parents may think it is harmless to scare their children into compliance by saying, "I will get that policeman over there to take you to jail if you don't behave."  That is using law enforcement officers as an excuse not to deal with a child's negative behavior directly.

    We need to promote the protection assured by our police and not make negative comments about them.  We should explain to our our kids that if they feel unsafe they can always seek the assistance of a police officer.

    In most cases children feel they cannot tell anyone about physical, sexual, verbal or emotional abuse occurring within their own families or amongst friends.  For this reason
       a) Children need to be taught at home and at school what any kind of abuse looks like.
       b) Parents need to watch their kids carefully for any signs of fear or anxiety around others.
       c) Parents should believe what a child tells them and if they won't talk to their parent, make sure
           they tell someone they can trust, such as a policeman.

    I always make a point of thanking police for their service when I see them standing in the mall or in the street.  It is good for our children to learn to thank them also.  This will help them realize that police are here to protect rather than to scare us.  It is amazing the look on the officers' faces when they are praised at a time when they are often under attack from sections of the community because of some misguided, rogue colleagues or some who exercised poor judgment.

    By encouraging your children to thank officers, they will likely build a positive image of law enforcement rather than be afraid of it.

    Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families

    Tuesday, May 5, 2015


    It is indeed a wonderful thing to have strong grandparental influence in our lives.  I have vivid and lovely memories of my Mom's Mom, Nanny.  She had purple hair (although lilac would be more accurate), was always beautifully dressed, wore pearls and had a lovely tinkly chuckle.  I really only knew her up until I turned 9 years old, after which time we moved to another country. We loved to go to her house when we were very small and play checkers.  One day I put one of the little game balls in my mouth and discovered we were playing with candy!!!!  Funny, the things you remember. Unfortunately, I never really knew my other grandmother or either of my grandfathers.

    I love being a grandparent.  My husband and I enjoy spending time with them.  We 'Ooh' and 'Aah' at all the things they proudly show us.  We try to keep up with them when they play in the park or ride their bicycles and we join in when they build Lego towers and such.  Although we have grandchildren in two countries, we do see our far away grandkids on Skype and in pictures.  Thanks to Face Book we are up to date with most of their adventures and we see them personally for about a month every year.

    You remember Little Red Riding Hood?

    "Oh, Grandmother, what big eyes you have!"

    1. Grandparents are observant.
    •  We see when our kids need a break from their children for a while.
    •  We watch the grandkids play and watch over them when they sleep over.
    •  We observe when our grandkids are happy and when they are sad or troubled.

    "Oh, Grandmother, what big ears you have!"

    2. Grandparents listen.
    • We have the time to listen to their stories and their adventures.
    • We offer emotional support by being 'a soft place for our grandchildren to land' and to talk over concerns they may have. 
    • We offer physical support by being there when parents cannot be. 

    3. Grandparents are role models and trainers.
    •  We show by example and train from experience.
    •  We help them make wise decisions. 
    •  We confirm the values that our grandkids are being taught by their parents.
    For much more helpful information on the greatness of grandparenting, check out our free EBook of the same title, by going to the top left side of our blog home page and clicking on 'Special Offer' Free E Booklets.

    Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families




    We live in a semi-rural area over by Percy Priest Lake, in Nashville, Tennessee and we often take a walk in the early evening.  The scenery is beautiful.  The trees are green and the air is fresh and clear. The birds sing and all seems to be well with the world.  Then we look down.  Lying in the gutters, berms and drains all along the roadside is trash, obviously thrown from passing vehicles.  Why would anyone be so thoughtless in littering this beautiful environment?

    My husband has just come in from mowing the roadside frontage of our property and has picked up 40-50lbs of trash such as bottles, cans, fast food boxes and plastic bags.  He even scored a set of nice sunglasses!  Where do these litter bugs come from?  They come from homes where other litter bugs live.  This is where they learned to be one.


    I remember reading a true story in a New Zealand newspaper.  A gas pump attendant was filling a customer’s tank when the driver opened his window and emptied all his trash, cigarette butts and all, out on the forecourt.  He then closed the window. The attendant quietly swept it all into a little dust pan and knocked on the car window.  When the driver opened the window, the attendant said, ‘Excuse me, Sir, I think this is yours!", and promptly tipped the contents back into the car.  YES!

    What does it take to create a concern for our environment?  We need to look at our own attitude as adults.   Do we understand that trees, plants, and little greeblies are here for a purpose and need an unpoluted environment, too?  Everything is placed on this earth to give us a greater quality of life. When we have an appreciation for our surroundings, then we can train our children to be the same.

    • Lead by example.
    • Show them that respect does not only relate to people, but also includes the nurture of our environment.
    • Train our kids early to pick up their stuff and discard trash in recepticals, NOT on the ground. 
    • Take our kids out in the community with trash bags periodically.  By doing this they will get an appreciation of how much easier it is to put trash in cans in the first place, instead of just tossing their stuff out windows.
    • Encourage our kids to plant a little garden or a tree.  Make them responsible for looking after it and watching it grow.  They will learn to protect it and water it.  By understanding what it takes for those plants to grow, they will be less likely to thoughtlessly damage tree limbs, stand or ride over garden plants and such like. 
    We also need to teach our kids that, not only are we responsible for dealing with our own trash, but sometimes that of others.  Brian used to supervise the school cafeteria.  If he asked a child to pick up lunch trash where the owner could not be identified, the response usually was, "I’m not picking that up.  I never put it there."  Of course, they did pick it up, but not before major protest.  We're talking about being a good citizen here, and it's often a hard lesson to learn because of our selfish nature.

    The environment belongs to all of us. We need to care for and protect it – not just for ourselves but for future generations. Our kids are part of that future and their kids need to learn the same important value.  It is all a matter of respect.

    Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families 


    We heard a great talk by our Pastor yesterday on family values (my pet subject) and one of his points was the importance of 'flexible parenting'.  'Flexible parenting'?  What did he mean by that? Is this the result of inconsistency?

    I was most relieved when he explained that our disciplinary approach may need to vary since each child's makeup and personality type is so different.  The expected behavioral outcome is the same, but the means of getting there may be different.  That makes perfect sense to me.

    I have always been amazed that children born of the same parents can be so vastly different in personality.  I had one strong-willed child and one compliant child.  One always did his homework without being told and the other had to be told many times before she would get to it.  Some kids respond by us taking away privileges.  Some respond to time-outs and some respond to spankings (Where it is permissible).

    It is obvious that if one method doesn't work, then you try another.  However, kids often see this as unfair because the variable treatment is often perceived as favoring one child over another.  It is, therefore, important to explain to children that you require the same behavior from each child, but that you will use whatever means it takes to get the desired result.

    It is also a good idea to work out what will be the most to the least important values or expectations in your home.  Respect and honesty are the highest on my list, so they deserve the highest level of discipline in the case of infringement.  Getting home from a friend's home a little later than you told them may mean a lesser degree of correction.

    We need to recognize that when we are 'losing the plot' it is not the time to issue severe punishment.  Tempered with efforts to train our kids to be responsible, caring and respectful adults, is the need for love and praise.  I have heard it said that it takes four positives to overcome one negative action, so our  children need to have a lot more 'tokens' in their positive banks than they do negative ones.  In raising our kids there needs to be a balance between fun and training.  Too much fun and little responsibility breeds a sense of entitlement.  Too much training and little fun breeds rebellion.   

    • Both parents agree on disciplinary measures.
    • Train our kids to meet our expectations.
    • Praise them for doing things right.
    • Explain the consequences of negative behavior.
    • Be consistent in issuing consequences.
    • Follow up by assuring our children that we love them. 
    • Ensure that they understand that their actions are what caused disciplinary measures.   
    • Reiterate your expectations and praise corrected behavior.
    Written by Sally Burgess, Forefront Families


    Every day is mothers’ day in my estimation. Why do we celebrate this only one day in the year?
    Let me wax eloquent and put my feelings into prose......

    Conception occurs and the bond begins
    Within the womb a new life materializes
    Imbued with a purpose and God–given gifts to match 

    The child is ready to meet the world
    Birth thrusts the baby into humanity’s domain 

    To be nurtured and raised to fulfill destiny’s plan 
    From earth’s greatest teacher, a mother’s love 
    Smothers the infant and ensures a stable life
    Unrequited, unconditional and always ready to serve

    A mother’s love is as constant as the sun’s rising
    Fathers sometimes come and go when things get too hard 

    But a mother for life is all a woman understands
    Through thick and thin, good times and bad 

    Mother love clings like a vine to a tree 
    Dependable, unshakeable, wounded then healed  
    Her love remains when all else fails
    God has given her a heart and strength

    That knows no limits, or seems that way 
    Sleepless at times and ensuring all are fed
    She falls exhausted, happy that she’s served well
    However old her child may be, there’s no limit 

    To her love and devotion
    Until she breathes her last air, she remains

    A doting mother and friend

    Thank you all mothers. You never give up on your children. It is you who makes this a better world. Though you get weary from the multi-tasking work you perform and the pain you can endure, you are precious in God’s sight. He made you that way. Your unselfish attitudes and your instinct to never give up are what set you apart. I know that there are some mothers who don’t fulfill their role well, but they are by far the minority.

     I honor and respect you. I’m sorry for the way too many of you have been treated by men. All of us can do better as parents and in our personal relationships. We should seek help to improve our skills, learning daily how to do it better.

    Mothers usually end up raising their children and being the constant factor though families fall apart. I have seen so many single mothers doing an outstanding job with very little support and encouragement. Where most men would give up long ago, mothers battle on to ensure their kids reach their potential.

    Footnote to men: I have met many men who are single parents and doing a fantastic job raising their kids, too. There are other men that may not have been solely responsible for the family breakup or had little to do with it, yet they have been denied custodial rights and would love to be raising their children. I honor you, too, but this article was about mothers.

    Written by Brian Burgess, Forefront Families